Short summary - The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come
A certain pious man was cast down by the wicked in the prison, and he had a vision there: In the middle of the field, with his back to his habitation in the city of Death, there is a man bent under the heavy burden of sins. In his hands is the Book. From the Book of this man, the Christian, learned that the city will be burned by heavenly fire and all its inhabitants will perish irrevocably if they do not immediately go on the path leading from death to Eternal Life. But where is he, this welcome path?
Domestic considered the Christian insane, and the neighbors scoffed at him when he left the house in the city of Doom, not knowing himself where he was going. But in a clean field he met a man named Evangelist, who pointed out to the Christian the high gates that stood high in the distance and ordered them to go straight to them, without turning anywhere.
Following the Christian, two neighbors set off from the city: Stubborn and Compliant, but the first soon turned back, not receiving from satellites a clear answer to the question of what kind of «inheritance imperishable, immaculate» awaits them behind the Close Gate. The accommodating one also left the Christian when he saw how he entered the impenetrable swamp of despondency - a place on the way to the Cramped Gates, where the impurities of the sin of doubt and fear, seizing the sinner awakened from the eclipse, flock. It is neither possible to bypass this swamp, nor to drain or pave it.
Behind the swamp of the Christian, the Worldly Sage awaited. He seduced the traveler with speeches that he knew a simpler and more effective way to get rid of the burden of sins than a journey full of formidable dangers on the other side of the Close Gate. It is enough to turn into a village with the beautiful name of Goodness and look for a person there called Legality, who has already helped a lot of people.
The Christian listened to unkind advice, but the Evangelist stopped him on a roundabout disastrous path and set him on the right path, stepping on which he pretty soon reached the Close Gate.
«Knock, and they will open it for you,» the Christian read the inscription above the gate and knocked with a sinking heart. The gatekeeper let the Christian in and even slightly pushed him in the back, for nearby was the strong castle of Beelzebub, from which he and his family would shoot deadly arrows at the gates that kept them from passing.
The gatekeeper pointed out to the Christian many paths lying behind the gates, but only one of all - laid by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ and His apostles - is narrow and direct. According to him, along the path of truth, the Christian must go further.
A few hours later, the Christian came to a certain house, where everything - the rooms and the objects in them - symbolized the most important truths, without which the pilgrim could not overcome the obstacles prepared for him. The meaning of the symbols was explained to the Christian by the owner of this house. The interpreter.
Thanking the Interpreter and continuing his journey. The Christian soon saw a hill ahead crowned by the Cross. As soon as he ascended to the Cross, the burden of sins rolled off his shoulders and disappeared into the grave, gaping at the foot of the hill.
Here, at the Cross, three angels of the Lord surrounded the Christian, removed the road rags from him and dressed them in festive garments. Guiding the way forward, the angels handed him the key of the Promise and a scroll with a seal, which serves as a pass to the heavenly city.
On the way to the Christian came across other pilgrims, mostly unworthy of their chosen paths. So, he met the Formalist and the Hypocrite from the country of Vanity, who held the path to Zion for glory. They bypassed the Close Gate, for it is customary to walk the shortest path in their country - as if it weren’t said about them: "He who doesn’t enter the sheep’s yard by the door, but climbs the inude, is a thief and a robber."
When it was necessary to cross the mountain Difficulty, the formalist with the Hypocrite chose convenient-looking, smooth bypass roads - one was called Danger, and the other was Killing - and they disappeared.
At the very top of the mountain, the Christian met the timid and incredulous; these pilgrims were afraid of the dangers with which the road to heaven would be fraught, and out of cowardice they decided to turn back.
The Christian was confronted with the first danger at the entrance to the hall of the Splendor: two formidable lions were chained here on the sides of the path. The Christian was astonished, but here the gatekeeper reproached him with lack of faith, and, having gathered his courage, he went unharmed exactly in the middle between the roaring creatures.
The courage of the Christian was rewarded with a cordial reception in the chamber and a long, protracted conversation after midnight, with a heartfelt conversation with the maidens Wisdom, Piety and Mercy about the greatness and goodness of the Master who built this chamber. The next morning, the hosts led the Christian on the road, equipping armor and weapons that do not age and do not wear out forever.
Without these weapons and armor, it would not have been christian to the Christian in the Valley of Humiliation, where the angel of the abyss Apollion, the ardent enemy of the King, whom the Christian served, blocked his path. The pilgrim courageously entered into a duel with the adversary and with the name of the Lord prevailed on the lips.
Further, the Christian's path lay in the valley of the Death Shadow, where in pitch darkness he had to step along a narrow path between a terrible quagmire and a bottomless abyss, bypassing the entrance to hell. Safely he passed and the den of the giants Paganism and the Papacy, in the old days, while they were still strong, completely dotted with bones the travelers who fell into their paws.
Behind the Valley of the Mortal Shadow, the Christian caught up with a pilgrim named Faithful, who, like the Christian, passed through the Close Gate and managed to pass more than one test. Having found worthy companions in each other, the Christian and the Faithful decided to continue the journey together. So they walked until they saw a city in the distance.
Then an evangelist familiar to both came out to meet them and said that in this city one of them would accept a martyr's death - he would accept it for his own benefit: he would enter the Heavenly City earlier, and besides, he would avoid the sorrows prepared for the survivor. That city was called Vanity, and there was a fair all year round. The choice of goods was enormous: houses, estates, posts, titles, kingdoms, passions, pleasures, carnal pleasures, rich wives and husbands, life of body and soul; round-the-clock free shows: theft, murder, adultery, oath-crime ... The fair was illuminated with an ominous crimson light.
The pilgrims answered the calls of the sellers that they needed nothing but the truth. These words caused an outburst of indignation among traders. As troublemakers, the Christian and the Faithful were brought to trial, where Envy, Superstition, and Pleasure testified against them.
By an unrighteous verdict, the Faithful was brutally executed, but the Christian managed to escape. But he did not have to go alone for long - he was caught up by the Hope from the city of Vanity, who was forced to set off on a journey by the sight of the death of the Faithful; thus always the death of the witness of truth erects new followers of Christ.
Seeing a comfortable path that seemed to follow exactly along their road, the Christian persuaded the Hopeful to go on it, which almost killed both: following a convenient path, the pilgrims found themselves at the Doubt castle. The castle belonged to the giant Despair, who captured them and began to torment, trying to lay hands on himself and thereby stop the terrible torment.
The Christian was already ready to heed Despair, but the Hope reminded him of the commandment «Thou shalt not kill.» Here the Christian remembered the promise given by the angels and opened the locks of the prison.
Soon the pilgrims were already in the Otradnye Mountains, from the tops of which the gates of Heavenly City were dimly visible. The shepherds Cognition, Experienced, Vigilance and Sincere gave the Christian with the Hope a detailed description of the path to them.
Having a description received from faithful hands, the travelers nevertheless followed a black man in shining clothes, who promised to lead them to Heavenly City, but led into cunningly arranged nets. An angel of God freed the pilgrims from the nets and explained that they had fallen into the trap of the Seducer, otherwise - the False Apostle.
Further, the Christian and the Hope walked through the wonderful country of Combination, about which the prophet Isaiah spoke and which the Lord calls His. The air here was filled with marvelous aromas and rang from the charming singing of birds. More distinctly and distinctly to the eyes of the travelers the coveted Heavenly City was revealed. And so they went to the river, which they certainly had to cross - only two, Enoch and Elijah, got into Heavenly Jerusalem, passing it.
As soon as the pilgrims entered the river, the Christian began to sink and cried out in the words of the Psalmist: «I am drowning in the deep waters, and the waves cover me with my head! The horror of death has taken hold of me! »
But Jesus Christ did not leave His faithful, and they safely went to the opposite bank. At the gates of the heavenly city, the pilgrims met an army of angels; the heavenly choir sang a song: "Blessed are they called to the wedding supper of the Lamb."
Pilgrims entered the gate and behind them suddenly changed and put on robes, sparkling like gold. Angels, of whom there were a great many, sang: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!"
And there was another vision to a pious man, in which the fate of Christians was revealed to him, who did not want to once follow her husband.
As soon as the husband crossed the River of Death, this woman began to ponder her past and future; she was burdened with the burden of guilt - not only for herself, but for the children she was prevented from entering Eternal Life.
Once she saw in a dream a Christian standing between the immortals and playing the lyre before the Lord. And the next morning a guest by the name of Mystery knocked on her door and conveyed the invitation of the Master of Heavenly City to come to His meal.
The neighbors ridiculed Christian when they found out that she was embarking on a dangerous journey, and only one, called Love, volunteered to go with her.
Behind the Closer Gates, the Lord Himself greeted Christian with children and with Love. He indicated the path that He walked on and which he had to overcome.
Such terrible dangers awaited women and children along this path that the Interpreter considered it necessary to give them to the guides of his servant named Spirit of Courage. He rescued travelers more than once, protecting them from terrible giants and monsters, without the number of ruined pilgrims who set foot on the path leading to the Heavenly City not through the Close Gate,
Everywhere, wherever Christian with her companions passed, she heard admiring tales of the glorious exploits of her husband and his comrade Verny. During the journey, her sons married the daughters of pious people and their children were born. The babies, grandchildren of Christians and Christians, pilgrims were handed over to the Shepherd, who was herding herds on the Otradnye mountains, and went down to the country of Combination. Here, among the marvelous gardens that overshadowed the banks of the River of Death, they remained until an angel appeared to Christians with the news that the King was expecting her to appear to Him in ten days.
In due time, Christian entered the river with joy and reverence; on the other side a chariot was already waiting to receive her and take her to Heavenly City.